Sadly, by the time I've gotten this up, both the original LIFE Cafe on Ave. B. and the one in Bushwick are gone.
I also hope it's clear we are mocking "Rent" (again) & not AIDS/HIV itself. Eric has had a lot of friends who succumbed to the plague of AIDS/HIV, including his first wife Valerie, and we have friends living with it now, so he's jusssst a little put off by the "one of the gang!" treatment AIDS is given in Rent (among other things about it - newsflash: introducing a character by having her sing about how she's murdered a dog, even one that belonged to a yuppie, is neither edgy nor endearing). Why do I know so much about this? A friend of mine was into it & she loaned me the soundtrack in the 90's. I liked the singing answering machine in the beginning. I think there should be a Broadway show that's no cast, no scene changes, just 2 hours of a singing answering machine. Really banal messages like "Yo rooomieeeee--are you hooooommmeeeee? Pick up! Pick up! I lost my keys at the bar, I can't get innnnn!" All sung. And they should charge assholes $600 bucks a seat and tell them it's "high art" and very "cultured."
We do both like the singing Rent puppets from "Team America" though.